The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Humans of Harker: Creative director, directive creator

Emily McCartney embraces leadership through film and volunteering
“Leading is about being confident because you have to learn to tell people what to do, and that’s not something that I was used to. But by the end of it, you’re like, ‘Okay, I have to do this because this is my job.’ You can tell the actor, ‘Hey, can you do that again?’ or ‘Move over here. We’re going to shoot that again’ or ‘You did great. Just do it again so we can get a different angle,’” Emily McCartney (12) said. (Ella Guo)

With the sun gradually setting, the sky suddenly began to darken, creating an atmosphere of pressure as light faded. Noticing the change while shooting a short horror film, Emily McCartney (12) knew the group had limited time to finish the project and took charge to utilize the available resources. Adapting and working with what she had, Emily focused on the final shots of the film, helping Advanced Acting arrange into positions and taking shots of the scene from different angles as one of the directors. 

Emily deeply enjoyed taking Filmmaking and Photography in her junior year. The class collaborated with Advanced Acting to produce a short horror film, spending long hours to complete the project. She recalls watching the final piece she produced in the RPAC theater as an especially rewarding experience. Upper school media arts teacher Joshua Martinez, who taught Emily in Filmmaking and Photography, comments on her persistence in navigating new fields.

“During the first photography class, Emily was a little uncertain about the technology aspects of digital cameras and slightly concerned about breaking stuff or things not working, and that confidence was something that she worked really hard to build,” Martinez said. “I have so much respect for somebody that is willing to look at the things that are difficult and figure out how to take ownership, and I am really thankful for her dedication.”

Working on the film project shaped Emily’s appreciation of collaboration as she learned the importance of using film terminology to work more efficiently. As a director and the writer of the script, she helped her friends out and cooperated to improve the piece as a whole by editing and adding audio. Emily notes the changes of her perspective towards film and general collaboration.

“Film has shaped my perspective on working with people and the importance of good communication,” Emily said. “You always hear ‘work together’ and ‘work on this,’ but it is really important, and it’ll serve you well.”

In addition to film and photography, Emily started art by taking classes throughout high school. Both drawing and film allow Emily to express herself artistically and convey her point of view. She enjoys the classroom as a collaborative space where she can give and receive feedback on art.   

Having showcased her work in the annual art exhibitions like Artstravaganza, Emily finds seeing not only her creations but also the artwork of her fellow classmates in a gallery enriching. Admiring her classmates’ works inspires Emily, as she can relate to the hard work that they have put in to achieve the final product.

“I like how art shows are treated as formal galleries and how they’re celebrations of the hard work everyone has put in throughout the year,” Emily said. “It’s always nice when a lot of people go to the art shows. It’s also cool to display all of it in a collection and see how other people’s work turned out.”

Upper school visual arts teacher Pilar Aguero-Esparza worked with Emily in her sophomore and junior year in her drawing classes. After seeing her performance improve as Emily grew more confident with her artwork, she commends Emily’s creative thinking and willingness to innovate. 

“There was this one piece where Emily was drawing a clock,” Aguero-Esparza said. “She drew the clock, but the time parts of the clock were little beautiful sketches of her and her friends. But then, she wanted to make it more three dimensional, almost as if it was a clock made out of wood. She started to figure out how to construct this. Then she was going above and beyond and started to do almost a mixed media approach with her drawings.” 

Close friend Christina Rex (12), who met Emily in 10th grade, appreciates her easy-going personality and shares an interest in pop culture and movies with Emily. She notes Emily’s planning skills and dedication to organization in their friend group. 

“She builds community wherever she goes,” Christina said. “Her strength is bringing people together. Emily is a master planner; her organizational skills when it comes to people are really good.” 

Emily took on another leadership role in her junior year when she attended an overnight YMCA camp as a camp counselor over spring break. While she encountered many challenges supervising young children, she found great satisfaction in witnessing their increasing sense of adventure, resonating with her own experience with the camp years before. 

“It was really fun to see them grow and to try new things over the course of the week because most of them had never even [been] on a hike or away from home before,” Emily said. “I had to really step up because when you’re a camp counselor, you have to be their friend and the authority figure at the same time.”

Emily notes the similarities between managing elementary school students and directing a short film: they both require people to stand up and take the lead. After not being familiar with directing, she gradually embraced her role on the team. Emily also learned more about volunteering and photography, becoming more experienced with the craft. She notes that bravery and branching out are important aspects of leadership, creating a tight knit community that works together to achieve goals.

“Leading is about being confident because you have to learn to tell people what to do and that’s not something that I was used to,” Emily said. “But by the end of it, you’re like, ‘Okay, I have to do this because this is my job.’ You can tell the actor, ‘Hey, can you do that again?’ or ‘Move over here. We’re going to shoot that again’ or ‘You did great. Just do it again so we can get a different angle.’”

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Ella Guo, Reporter
Ella Guo (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Ella wishes to improve her photography skills and write more news. In her free time, she enjoys reading and drinking boba.

Comments (0)

All Harker Aquila Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *